Hey readers, I’m glad to be back with more content. Today I’ll be going over a short recap of my run at Vancouver Regionals and analysis of Zoroark GX in both Standard and Expanded. Overall my testing for London and San Jose has been pretty solid and Zoroark is the card I’m most impressed with so far.
I chose to play Drampa Garbodor and I was very surprised to see how many players also chose to play it. I felt like it was the safe play since it had no real terrible matchups. Here is how my rounds went.
R1 Ninetales WW
R2 VikaBulu WW
R3 Espeon/Garbodor/Drampa WLW
R4 Gardevoir/Sylveon LL
R5 Gardevoir Sylveon WW
R6 Drampa/Garbodor WW
R7 Volcanion LWW
R8 Gardevoir LWW
R10 Drampa/Garbodor LWW
R11 Greninja LL
R12 Drampa/Garbodor WLL
R13 Gardevoir/Sylveon LWL
Overall record 8-4-2
I had a relatively decent day one but pretty much got destroyed day two. I barely beat Azul round one then lost three straight to Michael Long, Aaron Tarbell, and Christopher Schemanske. It honestly was pretty insane that I played against four high-level players in day two. They all played perfectly and made it feel like a World Championship. I intentionally drew my last round because I knew that I had no chance to make Top 16 and I was already tired of losing. I do not regret my deck choice at all as I’ve always been comfortable with Garbodor. The tournament was dominated by Garbodor and Gardevoir and those were my two options before the tournament. I still believe that both of these decks are the best decks in Standard but now we have more options with Shining Legends and Crimson Invasion. I can’t really think of too many new archetypes outside Buzzwole GX but there will be probably some new decks as the format progresses.
Now let’s get into Zoroark GX
Zoroark-GX – Darkness – HP210
Stage 1 – Evolves from Zorua
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may discard 1 card from your hand. If you do, draw 2 cards.
[C][C] Riotous Beating: 20x damage. This attack does 20 damage for each Pokémon you have in play.
[D][D] Trickster-GX: Choose 1 of your opponent’s Pokémon’s attacks and use it as this attack. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack a game.)
When your Pokémon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.
Weakness: Fighting (x2)
Resistance: Psychic (-20)
At first glance, this card is reminiscent of Empoleon DEX. With the same ability and similar attack, Empoleon was a solid deck during its time. I feel like Zoroark will have a similar impact going forward. Zoroark GX is very popular in Japan because they are allowed to use Sky Field. In standard, Riotous Beating is not as strong because it can only hit a maximum of 120 or 150 on a GX/EX with Choice Band. In Expanded, it is a more potent attack because of Sky Field. It can do a maximum of a 180 damage and 210 with Choice Band.
The ability is incredible. Consistency has always been a huge part the game. Zoroark GX will make any deck more consistent. In standard, our only competitive draw options are pretty much Professor Sycamore, N, Lillie, Oranguru and Octillery. However we can only a use these draw Supporters up to four times each since we no longer have VS Seeker in the Standard format, Zoroark shines with this newly added consistency. Similarly to Octillery, Zoroark allows us to draw additional cards without using our Supporters for turn. With this in mind, you can start abusing tech Supporters such as Hex Maniac, Karen, and many other powerful ones.
Starting off with the Standard version, I used the Zoroark/Drampa deck from last season’s PRC-GRI format as a template to construct this deck. I kept the core of Zoroark Break and Drampa but incorporated newer cards and techs to deal with the new Meta. Zoroark GX gives it more consistency than it ever had before. This deck is just full a lot of different Pokemon but that is a good thing! We have a myriad of attackers to deal with most of everything.
Zoroark GX Toolbox Standard
- 4 Zorua
- 2 Zoroark GX
- 3 Zoroark BKT
- 2 Zoroark BREAK
- 3 Tapu Lele GX
- 1 Drampa GX
- 1 Eevee
- 1 Espeon GX
- 1 Celesteela GX
- 1 Shining Mew
- 1 Tapu Koko
- 4 Professor Sycamore
- 4 N
- 3 Guzma
- 1 Lusamine
- 1 Brigette
- 4 Ultra Ball
- 4 Choice Band
- 1 Special Charge
- 1 Multi Switch
- 2 Float Stone
- 2 Field Blower
- 2 Rescue Stretcher
- 4 Rainbow Energy
- 4 Double Colorless Energy
- 3 Psychic Energy
1 Drampa GX
This card is obviously good in here since we already run Rainbow Energy and DCE. Righteous Edge and Berserk are some of my favorite attacks. Big Wheel is the GX attack we can use since this deck does not have a primary GX attack. This is also one of our primary targets for Shining Mew’s Legendary Guidance.
1-1 Espeon GX
This deck has a huge Fighting weakness in Drampa and Zoroark. I was trying to find other basic Psychic Pokémon but Espeon GX was the best counter I’ve found. Gallade or Buzzwole can run through the deck but an Espeon can keep those Fighting Pokémon in check.
1 Tapu Koko
Similar to Drampa, this card is very useful. This helps us set up knockouts for all our attacks later in the game. Our attackers do not have a high damage cap like others decks. In a lot of matchups, I like to lead off with Tapu Koko.
1 Shining Mew
When I first saw this card, my first thought was “Oh Wow, this is insane!”. Attaching Special Energy straight from the deck sounds pretty broken. This deck did not have energy acceleration before but now there is a way with the new Mew. I typically try to power up Drampa and Celesteela because they both require two energy attachments. Attaching to Zorua and other attackers is fine as well when trying to get ahead in energy attachments.
1 Celesteela GX
Now, this is an unexpected card but it is going to be released in a promo box before the European International Championships.
Celesteela-GX – Metal – HP200
Basic Pokémon (Ultra Beast)
[M][C][C] Rocket Fall: 30+ damage. This attack does 30 more damage for each [C] in your opponent’s Active Pokémon’s Retreat Cost.
[M][C][C][C] Moon Press: 130 damage.
[M][C][C][C] Blaster GX: 180 damage. Turn all of your Prize cards face up. (Those Prize cards remain face up for the rest of the game.) (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)
When your Pokémon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.
Weakness: Lightning (x2)
Resistance: Fighting (-20)
This is just a counter and response to Gardevoir GX. Rocket Fall, equipped with a Choice Band will one hit KO a Gardevoir. We have the requisite energy to power it up and enough ways to get more energy on it with Shining Mew and Multi Switch. This card is still not an outright answer to Gardevoir because they just respond with another Gardevoir with four energy but the card gives us a better matchup against the deck. It is also a great counter versus Ninetales GX, which has been picking up hype recently with its new partner Zoroark GX.
4-3-2-2 Zoroark GX/Break
The main attacker of the deck. I basically subtracted a Zoroark BKT from the older list and added two GX. As I said earlier, Zoroark GX is an incredible support Pokémon. Riotous Beating is not as great as it is in Expanded but it is still solid damage. With Tapu Koko you can soften up some attackers so Riotous Beating can land some KOs. Zoroark BKT is still a strong single prize attacker that can hit for high damage against large benches. Most decks rely on Brigette so it is somewhat common to hit a high damage Mind Jack. Zoroark Break is very good against decks like Drampa/Garb, Vika Bulu, and Volcanion. It shines because it can knock out certain GXs with their own attack.
1 Special Charge/1 Multi-Switch
Special Charge is just for energy recovery since we may run out of some energy; Multi Switch can create some cool plays with Drampa or Celesteela to attack out of nowhere.
2 Rescue Stretcher
This stabilizes our Zoroark in play and allows us to reuse certain Pokémon.
4 Choice Band/ 2 Float Stone
This deck does not have the raw power of decks such as Volcanion, Gardevoir, or Bulu so I felt like 4 Choice Band gives us the best potential of max power for our attacks. Float Stone plus Stand In gives us great mobility through the entire game.
Since we have Zoroark GX, we can use non-draw Supporters more effectively. This is a new interesting card that is a great recovery Supporter. I’m going to keep testing this card in most of my decks. It is possible to cut this card for the fourth Guzma.
3 Tapu Lele GX/4 Sycamore/4 N/3 Guzma/1 Brigette/4 Ultra Ball/Two Field Blower
These are just the most standard and consistent counts. All of these cards are pretty self- explanatory as you see them in every deck.
Rainbow allows us to use Zoroarks Foul Play and Celesteelas Rocket Fall. The Psychic Energy is for Mew and Espeon.
As I said Drampa is very strong attacker. I wouldn’t mind a second copy because prizing would be annoying in certain matchups.
This a potential tech for any deck that has a bad matchup to Greninja. This card can turn the matchup from a bad to a good one.
3rd Float Stone
Almost every deck is running two copies of Field Blower and this causes us to run out of Float Stone sometimes. A third one likely guarantees us mobility throughout the entire game.
Gardevoir-Somewhere between barely unfavorable to even
Gardevoir is the best deck in the format and I do not really see anything from these two new sets changing that. My strategy in this matchup is to lead with Tapu Koko or Espeon GX to apply some pressure. I would also try to N away their Magical Ribbon as many times as you can. Doing it with Espeon GX can really disrupt them. Celesteela is a very solid response to a Gardevoir GX. It is also worth noting that Zoroark Break can copy Infinite Force. If a Gardevoir with a lot of energy is running through your board, you can try to respond with a Foul Play. The Gallade is definitely the problem in this matchup. It mows through Zoroark GX and Drampa GX. The best way to combat this is to knock it out with Espeon GX or with Zoroarks Mind Jack.
Drampa/Garb- Around even to slightly favorable
Our goal here is to limit the number of items we use and try to knock out their Drampa with Zoroark Break. Foul Play plus Choice Band gets a one hit knock out on a Drampa for one Rainbow Energy. Two issues I’ve found with this match where the constant use of Righteous Edge and Po Town sticking to the board, but the matchup is still fine. Trashalache can’t really deal a whole lot of damage thanks to Zoroarks Psychic resistance.
Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu- Favorable
Foul Play copying Nature’s Judgement is the strategy here. Bulu can’t trade well against single prize attackers. My goal here is to establish as many Zoroarks as I can. As some Zoroark get knocked out, you would want to use Rescue Stretcher to continue streaming them. Drampa also one-shots Bulu. Leading off with Shining Mew is recommended because you can get ahead with energy attachments and potentially power up Drampa as a secondary attacker.
Volcanion- Barely Favorable
Similarly to the Tapu Bulu matchup, you want to trade Zoroarks for their two prize attackers. You knock out a Turtonator with Foul Play and a Choice Band. Volcanion EX is a bit harder to deal with since Foul Play maxes out at 160 damage. However, a cool play to achieve the knockouts is spreading with Tapu Koko early to set up the KO. Volcanion also tends to have a large bench which means you can punish them with a Mind Jack. The annoying aspect about this matchup is the Enhanced Hammers and Fighting Fury Belts. As long as you place your Special Energy carefully, Enhanced Hammer shouldn’t be too much of a big deal. Luckily we run Special Charge for insurance. The double Field Blower is for countering their Fighting Fury Belts. You need to be careful with them and try to get the most value out each one. Discarding one early can be detrimental because this allows the Volcanion player to stick Fury Belts.
Golispod/Variants- Very Unfavorable
We have really no way to one shot a Golisopod. Their constant Acerola just makes it very hard for us to take knockouts. I feel like the best play is to just abuse Zoroark Break since it has 140 HP. Therefore you force the Golisopod player use their GX attack on a single prize attacker. However, this play can be countered by an early Tapu Koko spread which puts the Zoroark into First Impression knockout range.
Celesteela does work versus Ninetales GX. Like attacking a Gardevoir GX, a Choice Banded Rocket Fall knocks out Ninetales GX. Even if you don’t have a Celesteela in play, there other ways to win. You can Flying Flip early with Tapu Koko and set their Ninetales GXs to 190 HP. This allows you to Foul Play their Blizzard Edge into knockouts. If they attack with their Zoroark GX or Tapu Koko, you Righteous Edge the Double Colorless since they only run four copies of it.
Concluding with Zoroark Box, I feel like it is a very solid deck. I do not think Zoroark GX can be the main attacker of a deck in Standard because of its limited damage output but I think it is an excellent support Pokémon and should continue to see play during its duration in the format.
Now we are going to switch gears and go over an Expanded version of Zoroark GX. I’ve been testing Expanded a bit more than usual since Standard became sort of stale. I was very curious of the Zoroark GX combo with Sky Field so I constructed my own list and was very impressed how it ran. I feel like the deck can be a tier one deck in Expanded because of how consistent and hard-hitting it is.
Zoroark GX is completely different in Expanded because now it can be a primary attacker. It also can use the older Zoroark for more versatility. Exeggcute and Sky Field is pretty much the heart of the deck alongside teching whatever is needed for the Metagame.
Zoroark GX Toolbox Expanded
- 4 Zorua DEX
- 3 Zoroark GX
- 1 Zoroark BKT
- 1 Zoroark (BW)
- 3 Tapu Lele GX
- 1 Sudowoodoo GRI 66
- 1 Alolan Grimer
- 1 Alolan Muk
- 1 Seismitoad EX
- 2 Shaymin EX
- 2 Exeggcute PLF
- 2 Professor Sycamore
- 2 Brigette
- 2 Colress
- 1 N
- 1 Guzma
- 1 Teammates
- 1 Karen
- 1 Hex Maniac
- 4 Ultra Ball
- 4 VS Seeker
- 3 Choice Band
- 2 Special Charge
- 2 Float Stone
- 2 Battle Compressor
- 2 Rescue Stretcher
- 1 Field Blower
- 1 Computer Search
- 4 Sky Field
- 4 Double Colorless Energy
4-3-1-1 Zoroark GX
Zoroark GX is the main attacker of the deck. You always want two of them in play and sometimes a 3rd if you can. Trade gives the deck incredible draw power. I chose to run a single copy of Zoroark BKT because of the usefulness of Stand In and Mind Jack. Similarly to Zoroark Break, Zoroark BW has Foul Play also. Obviously, this is very strong in Expanded since there so many powerful attacks to copy. I chose to run the Zorua from Dark Explorer because the chance to paralyze can sometimes save you.
This card glues the deck together. It has two roles where Exeggcute can be discarded fodder for Ultra Ball, Computer search, and most importantly Trade. We can also use it as a benched Pokémon to power Riotous Beating.
This is just for the mirror and other Sky Field decks such as Mega Rayquaza. This card is also decent in other matchups where decks need bench spots.
1-1 Alolan Muk
While this card seems contradicting our deck, it is fine to set it up as long we have a stable board. The effect is very strong and as weird as it sounds, this is a counter to Sudowoodo. I’m basically teching against other techs. Sudowoodo obviously cripples this deck if you have no way to deal with it. Muk is a solid counter to shut it off. Muk is also good in other matchups where they rely on their basic abilities.
Seismitoad EX + Karen
Night March is one of the best decks in the format and this combo really helps aid this matchup.
3 Tapu Lele GX / 2 Shaymin EX
It’s always safe to be consistent. This deck needs a lot of benched Pokémon and why run anything other than the best basic support Pokémon the game has ever seen. Shaymin has always been good in Sky Field decks because it allows us to go through so many cards to progress our board state.
2 Battle Compressor
This card is for discarding Exeggcute, Supporters, and deck thinning. Discarding two Exeggcute early on is very good for this deck to use Ultra Ball and Computer Search more efficiently.
2 Rescue Stretcher/ 2 Special Charge
I find two Rescue Stretcher to be a good count, however, I wouldn’t mind running three. We only run four DCE and Special Charge is an obvious inclusion. I had one Special Charge at first, but the second one gives us more safety in the event of bad discards. I really like the second copy but cutting one may be fine to make extra space for other cards.
Two copies have been the most optimal in testing. I had one copy at first but the second copy has been great. We primarily grab three Zoruas or Sudowoodo/ Alolan Grimer.
2 Colress/ 2 Sycamore
Colress has always been amazing in Sky Field decks. I mostly draw 7-16 cards then I can set up my board off of one Supporter. Sycamore has been kind of mediocre in the deck but it does help me dig late game. I can see myself going down to one copy.
1 Guzma/ 1 N
These are thin counts but they perfectly fine with VS Seeker.
1 Teammates/1 Hex Maniac/1 Karen
These are our tech Supporters of choice. Teammates is very good to find DCE or any other missing pieces for our board. Hex Maniac is very strong against ability reliant decks. I feel like Hex Maniac is the strongest when you can take a knock out and play it at the same time. This almost guarantees that your opponent will not have a response. Non-draw Supporters such as these are stronger in this deck because we are already drawing so many cards with Trade.
2nd Field Blower/ 1 Xerosic
This is mainly for Garbotoxin since our deck is very reliant on abilities.
4th Zoroark GX
This is just for more consistency and gives us a higher chance of exploding with multiple Zoroark. I’m going to continue testing this count to see if it’s worth it.
Zoroark GX has 210 HP and requires just a DCE attachment. It is able to tank hits and Acerola allows a Zoroark GX to live a lot longer.
2nd Alolan Grimer
This just gives you more insurance in case we prize it. Some decks also want to target it before it evolves.
I had a line of this card included at first but I cut it for more consistency. I’m not sure what kind of line is correct between 1-1 or 2-2 but it is solid in the deck. It allows you to be aggressive without having to use Guzma and can be a solid counter in the mirror.
Night March- Favorable
The goal here is to use Karen and set up Muk/Seismitoad EX. As I said earlier, this deck can use its tech Supporters very well. The flaw with Karen in other decks is that they do not progress their hand without playing a draw Supporter. This is where the synergy between Zoroark GX and Karen shines. Zoroark does a good job of surviving hits from Pumpkaboo and Joltik. However, Marshadow GX can knock out a Zoroark easily. Countering Marshadow is one of the reasons why I included Alolan Muk. Using Quaking Punch, setting up Muk, and abusing Karen usually seals up the matchup. It is really hard for Night March to discard Night Marchers without using basic abilities and items.
Necrozma/Garbodor – Favorable
Zoroark takes hits really well from all their Pokémon. It is conceivable to limit item usage through Trade and giant Colress’s. The Psychic resistance also helps a lot. Drampa isn’t really a huge problem since there are already two Special Charge included. The most problematic thing about the matchup is Garbotoxin since it shuts off our abilities. I would try to Guzma the Garbotoxin or save the single Field Blower for when you can get maximum use from it. The 2nd Field Blower/1 Xerosic and Acerola also help improve the matchup.
Trevenant- Super Favorable
As long you set up a single Zoroark GX this matchup is a breeze. We can set up under item lock with Trade. Some important plays are using Hex Maniac and Special Charge at the same time since we may run out of energy. Sacrificing an Exeggcute to Silent Fear can activate Teammates to find a Zoroark GX to attack.
Turbo Turtles- Favorable
Zoroark BW is the best way to combat this deck. Zoroark BW can copy Turtonator GX’s Bright Flame and Ho-Oh’s Phoenix Burn. If they attack with Volcanion EX, you can just one shot it with Zoroark GX. We also one-shot them with Zoroark GX while abusing Hex Maniac. Like I said earlier in the Standard format with VikaBulu and Volcanion matchup, trading one prize attackers gives us the edge.
Gardevoir- Very Unfavorable
Zoroark GX cannot one shot a Gardevoir GX and Gallade steamrolls us as well. Zoroark BW can give you some hope but it is not enough most of the time. Your best bet is to just to try to use Hex Maniac as many times as possible while trying to overwhelm their board.
The goal here is to set up a Seismitoad EX alongside with Zoroark BKT. Setting up Zoroark BKT helps switch out Seismitoad EX from the Confuse Rays of Sableye. We also run two Special Charge to outlast their energy denial from their Supporters such as Team Flare Grunt, Xerosic, or Plumeria. You also want to use the Field Blower to turn off Garbotoxin if they set it up. Just like the Garbodor/Necrozma Matchup, you can add a second Field Blower or a Xerosic to give you a better chance to deal with ability lock. If you are running low on cards, you can use Karen or Rescue Stretcher to keep recycling Pokémon back into the deck.
Concluding with the matchups, I feel like the decks above are the best seven in Expanded right now. Zoroark has a good matchup with most of these decks. The Expanded format is still interesting and it has a lot more potential with these two new sets. I’m going to keep testing hard in Expanded because my next two regionals are in that format. Hopefully, I can try to build more new decks before then.
Concluding with everything, Zoroark will have a tremendous impact in both formats. The draw support and the ability to attack for a DCE is so strong. I think it will be a force until it gets rotated. I’m going to end it right here, good luck to everyone in their future tournaments! I’ll be at London Internationals and San Jose Regionals!
Edited by Neil Essymer